It’s been an exhausting week of news, both for topics related to sports betting and for issues much more fundamental to the future of the United States.
All eyes were fixed on the nation’s capital, ours included. For the first time after the US Supreme Court decision in May, sports betting was the subject of a federal hearing.
We’ll begin in the … (*takes deep breath*) … United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigation.
Add sports betting to the list of things they might eventually deal with, apparently?
Congressional subcommittee “explores” sports betting
Thursday’s hearing looked at sports betting at the very surface level, at least.
Members of Congress fielded testimony from two advocates of state-level regulation, two opponents of gambling expansion in general, and the NFL, more-or-less representing the stance of the professional sports leagues. It was a cursory discussion lasting less than 90 minutes.
Opponent Les Bernal was easily the most entertaining character in the show. The veins in his forehead struggled mightily as he cited the dangers of gambling, calling states “laboratories of fraud.” It’s a truly beautiful phrase, but he didn’t provide any facts to support it.
It was also amusing to see the NFL testify that it did not seek sweeping changes at the federal level … and then ask for a bunch of sweeping changes at the federal level.
Frighteningly, Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner walked away feeling that everyone in the room agreed on the need for Congress to intervene. It’s a strange way to summarize the testimony we watched, but it wasn’t the worst take of the morning. Not by a long shot.
News from states
The federal hearing took up enough of the spotlight this week to make headlines at the state level a little thin. There wasn’t even much New Jersey sports betting news apart from the iOS launch of the William Hill app.
- Pennsylvania: Two more operators applied for PA sports betting permits. Harrah’s filed its paperwork Monday, and SugarHouse sportsbook followed suit later in the week. The first approvals could be granted as soon as Wednesday.
- Rhode Island: The RI sports betting platform will be powered by IGT and William Hill, which are expanding their relationship. The two giants have a new multi-year alliance aimed at offering a turnkey sports betting solution for other state lotteries.
- West Virginia: Despite some ongoing oddities behind the scenes, WV sports betting seems healthy in its early-going. Sportsbooks accepted more than $3.4 million in wagers through the first three weeks of operation, mostly at Hollywood Casino.
- Oregon: A way-out-west state might get into the game soon. Plans for online sports betting in Oregon appear to be moving forward under the oversight of the lottery. Regulators project $100 million in annual revenue.
- Illinois: Gaming legislation has stalled in Springfield for some time now, but things may be changing. The possibility of a serious legislative shakeup has some folks feeling optimistic about IL sports betting in 2019.
Takes and tidbits
If you watched that Congressional hearing, you’ve probably had your fill of takes both hot and cold this week. We skimmed a couple of sports betting tidbits that are worth a special mention, though.
- Hands off: Prior to that Congressional hearing, two US lawmakers urged their colleagues to keep their hands off sports betting. Dina Titus (Nevada) and Tom MacArthur (NJ) aired their concerns in a letter to the subcommittee.
- Who ya gonna call?: The NFL is apparently worried about people being tricked into betting on fake events. Its written testimony included a spooky mention of “ghost games” as justification for a federal mandate regarding official league data.
- Take heed: Stakeholders are slowly working to address illegal sports betting websites. This week, FanDuel Sportsbook issued a warning to its partners who may be tempted to promote offshore gambling companies.
- Lessons learned: States could stand to learn a few lessons from the early growing pains elsewhere. The FanDuel incident, in particular, underscores the need for clear regulations and diligent training.
- That’s nice, but…: Speaking of that incident, Steve Ruddock argues that FanDuel Sportsbook was under no legal obligation to pay out the full value of those errant NFL tickets. That’s what rules and regulations seem to say, at least.
- Fore!: Some really smart people think sports betting will have a profound effect on the popularity of golf. Probably not as much as Tiger Woods winning another few majors, but it will no doubt move the needle. Incidentally, you can bet on every shot in the Ryder Cup in New Jersey this week.
If you want a little more content in your ears, the guys on TheLines Podcast broke down the week’s news in some depth. Check it:
That’s all, y’all. Have a good weekend.